Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Marc Lynch aka Abu Aardvark on NPR

One of my favorite resources regarding Middle East affairs is Abu Aardvark. Mark Lynch is one of the best-informed, most even-tempered experts on the region. Those two qualities are not easy to find in one person.

Yesterday he was interviewed on All Things Considered. The clip is worth hearing. He speaks about divisions in Al Qaeda in Iraq.

As the months and years pass, forces in Iraq that are carelessly lumped together in the single word "Insurgency" continue to crystallize into various groups. It is hard to discern from this far away exactly where each of them stands in the churning, chaotic, dysfunctional political and social matrix of that ancient country, but all seem to have one aim in common, the expulsion of American forces. Marc Lynch makes as much sense of the confusion as anyone. Getting rid of Americans is the most compelling unifying dynamic that Sunnis and Shiites of all stripes seem to have in common.

The "flypaper" approach seems to be working wonderfully well. Nothing unifies people like an outside threat, and the US occupation of Iraq, if it does nothing else, certainly provides inspiration for groups and individuals who might otherwise have little in common to come together for one cause. Iraq has become the destination of choice for the well-informed, aspiring anti-American terrorist wannabe.

I'm just an ordinary guy with access to the same news sources, the same blogs, the same public information as anyone else. By now I shouldn't be surprised when vast numbers of the public continue to wallow in ignorance, but I am mystified that so few people see the insanity of the US military presence in Iraq.

3 comments: said...

The same thing happened in Afghanistan in the 90s. Massoud in the north and Hekmatyar south, both stocked with weapons, equipment and cash from the CIA, ISI (Pakistan's CIA), the Saudis and Soviets...I'm 99% sure of my history here, so:

The communist regime in Kabul was finally about to fold after about two years of holding out, with a great deal of Soviet support. Hekmatyar was the ISI's favorite guy, but the CIA had been providing Massoud with money and weapons behind their back...Hekmatyar met with Massoud over radio, always assuming he had the upper hand and would take Kabul once the President was forced out, but Massoud was a general's general and out-smarted him, taking Kabul right out from under him.

Since Hekmatyar and others (bin Laden) had denounced the Saudi Arabian government, their support suddenly shifted to the border region madrassas and the locals there, who became the Taliban and basically (in the grand scope of events from 1979 until then 1994-ish) out of nowhere took control. I'm fuzzy on the particulars from around this time on, but getting up on it when I can.

The dynamic that allowed any of this to happen was the influx of money from foreign nations, and in both that war and (I truly believe) the war in Iraq, you will find the handouts that support the Islamic jihad originating from Saudi Arabia.

I think of that country as one that is full of "gangsta rappers" with more money than they know what to do with, only instead of drugs and sex, they're into being the Pat Robertsons of Islam.

Intelligence on the ground in situations like these are the kinds of things we can't know about until books are written. The thing about the big players in all this though, is whoever provides interviews to writers, if they're not safely exiled at the time, will be killed for having said a word.

Very sticky and impossible to predict. The CIA and ISI was 100% wrong about what would happen in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, and it wasn't as if there weren't some people who called it right, but with the beurocracy and politics and egos and whatnot, that's what ended up happening. There was one guy who was with the embassy or state department back then, who had the situation pegged 100%, but because it contradicted what the CIA was saying, the inside political game was played to get him reassigned.

Now, that's during Reagan-Bush Sr, and I'm damn sure that whatever kind of crap along those lines was taking place then, is even worse now, so I'll try my best to carve out some time to review that audio you linked to, because the innards of all this is pretty vital to the interests of more nation-states than we even know of.

Obviously, we just want to hang around until its finally passed into Iraqi law that the US gets to steal, 'provide infrastructure and enhance operational capacity' (my spin)

Love what you do here Hootsbuddy! Gets my wheels turning a hell of a lot more than the standard, "I can't believe Bush vetoed that bill...that dick!" posts I'm hoping to avoid in my surf-time tonight...Peace - DI

Hoots said...

You know the "oil law" you mentioned was put together last year. I was expecting the war to start winding down after that because I also believe that is the nub of the reason we are there. But here we are over a year later and the war continues.

The more I read the more I believe that what the US has put in place is truly a shadow government with little or nothing in the way of legitimacy. A year ago I thought there might be some basis for representative government, but I now think the dynamics of international politics makes anything that happens with the so-called Iraqi parliament or Maliki or anybody else is nothing more than shadow boxing. The reason we are stuck is that in the wake of a US withdrawal the place will fold up like a cheap ironing board and there will be a bloodbath of Biblical proportions. It seems even worse than the administration is saying, though not for the same reasons. As far as I can tell, except for local people on our payroll or benefitting directly from US police protection, the unifying force in Iraq on all sides is a deeply held hope that the US military will leave.

The Kurds are poised and waiting for their pound of flesh. Iraqi expats in Iran probably outnumber Iranians who want to invade from the East. (Persians are not Arabs, but they have a lot of Arabs on their hands.) I read somewhere that one out of eight Iraqis is now a refugee...the greatest number of displaced people in modern Levantine history. What a mess.

You mentioned Massoud. I presume you are referring to Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Afghan hero of the North who was assassinated forty-eight hours prior to the 9/11 attacks. I remember vividly that I had been reading about him at the time and instantly connected the two events in my mind. I still haven't connected those dots exactly, but it seems he was close enough to OBL and effective enough
as a military man to be considered an existential threat. said...

Same guy...I'm not all the way through my reading on him quite yet, but I admire his skills a great deal. The tactics his people used in N. Afghanistan vs. the Soviets is great (for me at least) to read about...I read some stuff on his childhood and how the kids would be playing war, and he'd always be the general, on the high ground, knowing precisely what orders to give, what to do next...

For a brilliant military leader, his political skills were lacking, especially in the pandering some instances he was perfectly non-extremist religion-wise to last longer than his foes, but in that country during those 30 years, it turned out that the highest paid were always the most jihad-crazy...CIA/ISI cut him out of most of what they provided the mujadeen, believing that the hardcore jihadists fought better.

The Saudis kept that trend going there...other places as well from what I gather. Like in Iraq today. There's a bible-worthy lesson in all of this that I hope to discover and write about before I'm dead.


I think Bush is so naive about politics, and Rove/Cheney really don't get that this oil will never belong to us. They've got John Negroponte writing in the Wall Street Journal, basically the same old line from last year, listing off all these "achievements" made by the government, he lists each of them's pathetic, because they're too weak to force anything upon Maliki, who is really their only hope since al-Sadr isn't doing us any favors anytime soon.

What our intentions were from the start, something that was pretty obvious, is now the last remaining thing we hope to get our hands on, yet for some reason cannot.

And the government is shut down for two months in the midst of the political storm here...they know exactly what they're doing (Iraq).

Our politicians and pundits are full of themselves to the point where they actually think that our splitting of hairs between one of 10 positions on a stage for an election that's still 2 years away means anything to anyone outside of our own country..."it'll send the wrong message to _______"

They're not even listening if you ask me.